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Airlifting of Covid vaccines takes off in full swing

Airlifting of Covid vaccines takes off in full swing

Indian airlines started delivering batches of Covid-19 vaccines across the country on Tuesday with as many as 5.65 million doses expected to reach various cities, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter.

Most of the vaccines are being brought in from the Serum Institute of India in Pune which has stockpiled 50 million doses of its ‘Covishield’ vaccine. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech will also be shipping out stocks of its ‘Covaxin’ vaccine which have been cleared for emergency use.

The government has finalised its first purchase order for the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine with Serum Institute of India, the Pune-based pharmaceutical company confirmed on Monday. The cost of the vaccine to the government is Rs 200 per dose for the first 100 million doses.

The Government plans to inoculate 30 crore high-risk people over the next six to eight months with the shots scheduled to begin on Saturday.

First to get the vaccine will be 3 crore million health and other front-line workers such as police personnel, followed by about 27 crore people aged above 50 or deemed high-risk.

In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, officials said vaccine distribution was their top priority.

“These vaccines will be taken to the cold storage from the airport and swiftly delivered to vaccination booths,” said Nitin Patel, Gujarat’s deputy chief minister.

Health authorities in various states said they intend to use the experience from regular child immunisation programmes for polio to ensure everyone gets covered in what they called the world’s biggest vaccination drive.

On Tuesday, the number of new coronavirus infections in India were put at 12,584 after 12, 507 were reported on Monday. The daily count of new cases has come down below 15,000 this week for the first time since June 22.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a meeting with the chief ministers held on Monday that “besides two already approved made-in-India vaccines, four more in pipeline to be rolled out in the country.”

Another affordable India-made vaccine that is expected to be rolled out is Russia’s Sputnik V which is being developed in collaboration with indigenous pharma firm Dr Reddy’s. The vaccines of US pharma giant Pfizer and multinational Moderna are also in line for approval in India but they are more expensive. Besides Indian pharma company Cadila is also developing a vaccine.

The Prime Minister further said that the two Covid-19 vaccines approved in India are far more cost-effective than foreign vaccines and have been developed as per the country’s needs.

"I'm satisfied that we worked together by standing united in Covid crisis, quick decisions were taken with full sensitivity. As a result, Covid has not spread in India on the scale, on which it spread anywhere else in the world," the prime minister said.

"Growing confidence among people in our Covid-19 fight has had positive impact on economic activities," Modi told the chief ministers..